Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program


First Advisor

Patsy Dickinson


Picrotoxin (PTX) has been employed extensively as a tool within the crustacean stomatogastric nervous system (STNS) for its efficacy in blocking K+ and Cl+ currents gated by both GABA and glutamate. Through blocking some currents in the STNS, PTX allows for examination of other components without their presence. However, effects of PTX are relatively unknown within the lobster’s cardiac ganglion (CG). As an incredibly small nervous system of only nine neurons, the lobster CG presents an excellent model system for studying neural circuits. Given that the chemical synapses in the CG are mediated by glutamate, the present study aimed to investigate the action of PTX in the lobster CG with the intent of better understanding its pharmacological impacts as a potential tool for studying the system. Therefore, this study aimed to establish the effects of PTX on CG responses to the application of exogenous GABA or glutamate. When data from both modulators were pooled, PTX applied at a concentration of 10-5M had significant effects on burst duration but not duty cycle or burst frequency of the CG. PTX did suppress GABA (5x10-5M) mediated inhibition of burst duration and duty cycle. PTX did not have any significant effects on burst duration, duty cycle, or frequency compared to exogenous glutamate application. These results indicate that glutamatergic inhibitory synapses are not present in the CG and PTX partially suppresses only GABAergic responses in this system.